Find Our Niche
People all have a particular niche whether it is a position in a sports team using a particular sidestep or a painter using a particular style.
Competition occurs in closely related niches, not between distant niches. It occurs when people compete with different strengths, between painters with different styles, between physicists with different ideas, between toymakers with different toys. Competition occurs between people in similar fields trying to make their best contributions.
It is when niches are most closely matched that competition is most intense, when rivalry may lead to patch protection and harm. This is why peer review is not always the best indicator of excellence. The closer work is to another’s the more likely it is to be seen as a threat, particularly when it contradicts or breaks new ground. In these circumstances new works are refused publication in journals, students refused entry to subjects, staff denied assignments, products denied entry to markets, and ideas snubbed by those who should be mentors.
If people have opponents to their advancement they are most likely those already established in their field, in their niche. They are in a position to resist advances through discouraging ideas, deflecting applications and rubbishing claims as they defend their own place in the field.
Fortunately, the real interest and market for people’s product, for their work, is outside of their niche, in the communities of people who are interested in it, but do not participate in it – the people who like sport, science, art, toys, and so on. They, not those in the niche, are the key to popular success.
The difficulty is breaking through the system to realise potential – to learn, produce, communicate and distribute in a niche. Open information technologies are essential to this.
Open information technologies, in particular the internet and digitised data, allow people to access knowledge for learning autonomously and to publicise and distribute their work to their audience (largely) without going through the autocratic system of organisations and institutions that censure and restrict access.
Unfortunately, the internet is vulnerable to restrictive controls, and autocratic organisations and institutions remain pervasive obstacles to communication and advancement. A controller can stand in the way without approval from the community or the wider organisation, because their position is not elected but appointed, and their decisions are not by consent but by decree. The situation is ripe for abuse.
It does not have to be like this. Those exploiting similar niches have to compete by trying to do better than others, but they do not have to harm in the process. Unfortunately the temptation to win by harming (generally by closing out opportunities for others) is too strong for those who do not understand that fulfilment without harm is for everyone. Their actions are facilitated by the non-democratic forms of organisation and decision-making that persist in society and are still legislated for in legal systems. These need to change.
To make change it is essential to future fulfilment that people persist in realising their potential without harm, rejecting control. Eventually the product of their potential will make the breakthrough to their audience. They will be fulfilled when they fill their niche and realise their unique potential, their unique purpose in life, and if they do it without harm then they will also have enabled the fulfilment of others potential.
Difference is desirable. Difference is what makes people interesting and unique. Difference is what makes people competitive. When every shop on the street is a bookstore it is each individual bookstore’s differences that makes it stand out.
Human selection is based on similarity, but sexual reproduction is not the only way to ensure survival of similar genes. Selection for favour, friendship, sharing, and mentoring are far more effective and efficient at preserving like traits in like persons than straight physical reproduction. The most effective enabler of these is the realisation of potential.
When people express their potential, and the contribution from doing so is lauded, then the effect of that popularity on the whole population’s selection for traits and persons alike to the contributors is far greater than their own reproductive capacity.
Competition to contribute is in ways that express and fulfil who people are.
[Excerpt from The Common Purpose Manifesto]